Warmer winter saves taxpayers £300,000

A WARM dry winter has saved taxpayers £300,000 with gritters going out half as often as two years ago.

Keeping the roads clear and safe has cost the county council £2.2 million this winter, down from £2.5 million last winter, after gritters were called out just 53 times.

Gritters did 94 runs in 2009-10, costing £2.66 million.

A county council spokesman said: “A total of 53 gritting runs for the winter season is about normal and tallies with what the council would expect when considered against the long-term average. However it obviously compares very favourably against recent winters which were notable for their prolonged cold periods with accumulations of snow.

“Many of the costs associated with winter maintenance are up front, such as maintaining the gritting lorries, paying staff and purchasing stocks of grit for the winter.

“A relatively mild winter is not as resource intensive as recent colder ones have been.”

It costs the county council £1.4 million a year to buy salt and grit, service the gritters, train the operatives, fill grit bins, pay for the weather information and maintain the technology that provides detailed information.

It costs about £15,000 each time gritters pre and post-treat the network for icy conditions and about £4,000 when footpaths are treated.

The spokesman said: “However when we experience snowfall the costs per treatment increase both in actual terms but also in number of applications, such as in bad prolonged snow conditions we could carry out four or five treatments within a 24-hour period.”

Mike Lewis, manager of Pitsford Weather Sation, said the average winter temperature of 4.9C was normal, but the warmest since 2007. And it has been the driest winter since 1991.

He said: “The main statistic for winter that’s striking is in terms of the lack of rainfall. It has been a relatively mild winter.

“We are in mid-to-late March so with some degree of certainty that winter has come to an end.”